Despite the dysfunction on Capitol Hill some things never change. Today hundreds of lobbyists are hitting Representatives' and Senators' offices.
This group, however, isn't of the typical Gucci Gulch variety.
The folks looking for favorable legislation are from nonprofits and charitable organizations.
Today has been deemed "Protect Giving Day" by the philanthropic sector. More than 200 folks from that arena are in Washington, D.C., alerting members of Congress of what they say are the "cascading consequences that could be set off by harmful limitations to the charitable tax deduction."
Donation deductions on chopping block? The possibility of cutting or capping the itemized charitable donation deduction pops up every time there's a federal budget crisis. It's happening now in the wake of the recent federal government shutdown and debt ceiling debates.
The tax value of donations already have been reduced under the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, also known as ATRA or the fiscal cliff bill. When higher income taxpayers file their 2013 tax returns, they'll see a reduction of their overall Schedule A claims.
Representatives from the Charitable Giving Coalition, a group of more than 60 nonprofits, foundations and other charitable organizations, are working the Hill today to move the discussion from entries on forms to the personal effect of donations.
Their message is to federal lawmakers is "I am the charitable deduction" and they will share real-life examples about the impact of charities and the ripple effects of the charitable sector at work in communities.
In addition to individual House and Senate office visits, the philanthropy lobbyists are holding a luncheon, complete with a panel discussion about charitable giving's effect on communities, for Congressional staff.
That noon gathering also will highlight how charitable interests cross traditional political perception borders. At that meal, the conservative pro-business American Enterprise Institute will release new research on how changes in tax policy could affect charitable giving.
Helping in the U.S. and beyond: It's a safe bet that the support of nonprofits will be framed by the recent deadly and devastating natural disasters in Asia and the American Midwest.
The Philippines is still struggling to recover from the massive destruction of Typhoon Haiyan. Many U.S.-based charities have been providing assistance to the residents of that archipelago nation.
And on Sunday, Nov. 17, several towns America's heartland were the target of 47 confirmed tornadoes.
The aftermath of the Nov. 17, 2013, deadly tornado in Washington, Ill. Photo by @AnthonyKhoury20.
The worst damage was in Illinois where several people were killed. In addition, thousands of other Illinois residents, as well as folks in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York are still without power and hundreds of homes and businesses have been destroyed.
As is the case when disasters strike, nonprofit organizations ramped up to help those coping with the damage.
If you want to help, you can give to the traditional relief groups:
- American Red Cross -- Donate online. If you prefer to mail a check, send it to your local American Red Cross chapter.
- Salvation Army -- Donate online or text the word "STORM" to 80888 to donate $10 and reply "YES" to confirm your donation.
Again, I must warn you to be wary of possible charity-related scams. Every time there's a tragedy, scumbag crooks try to take advantage of our best intentions.
And if you plan to deduct any donations, be sure you follow the Internal Revenue Service's charitable giving rules.
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